New York City, New York 2013-05-28


Reception is a browser experiment that uses custom CSS filters to give web sites the apparence of content on an old television with a poor signal. Aside from the visual distortion, many sites remain fully functional when displayed in this way.


Given the range of digital artifacts and errors we currently cope with, I thought it would be interesting to revisit the age of analog interference within the browser.


Reception: The Weather Channel
Reception: CNN
Reception: The Huffington Post
Reception: Yahoo! News


Unfortunately, there are a number of crippling limitations with custom CSS filters at the moment. From an aesthetic standpoint, effects like RGB color shifting are impossible because direct access to pixels is forbidden. A method to offset the referenced pixel would be secure and usable, but no such method currently exists.

Another major issue, also security related, is that many sites now disallow their use within an iframe. That would be fine, except that there isn’t a very graceful way to catch those errors. Frames aside, I suppose I could write some kind of crazy proxy, but at this point I consider the concept proven.

Finally, many, many things instantly break these filters—most notably the inclusion of Flash movies in the page.


Thanks to Aaron Sherwood, whose browser experiments inspired this project, and Felix Turner, whose Bad TV GLSL shader collection was a major source of influence and guidance. The static effect is generated using Ian McEwan’s GLSL 2D simplex noise.